Read on to find out exactly what cauliflower companion plants will work best for you in your vegetable garden or flower bed! This guide for companion planting cauliflower will encourage your brassica’s growth, helping it grow to big, beautiful and bug-free! Learn what plants make great cauliflower companions and what plants to steer clear from.
Cauliflower is a member of the brassica family, it does great in cooler climates and is hardy in USDA zones 2-11. Growing cauliflower takes a little bit of patience and skill but the payoffs are so worth it! Cauliflower does best when it is consistently kept moist. During hot months, it is best to mulch your cauliflower to conserve moisture. Consider growing companion plants that offer ground cover for your brassicas! It is not impossible to grow cauliflower in buckets… but definitely more of a struggle. Opt to plant your cauliflower in large beds or a ground level garden for the highest success rates.
Cauliflower is susceptible to many pests such as army worms, aphids, and cabbage loopers. Combat tricky pests by planting companion plants that help to deter them.
Cauliflower companion plants will help to improve your chances of having a successful harvest, strong healthy plants, and lower pest pressure.
What Is Companion Planting?
Companion planting is a simple way to get the most out of your garden- more specifically your cauliflower! Gardening with companion planting in mind can help you to improve the nutrients in your soil, provide shelter or a space to climb, attract beneficial insects and pollinators and even repel unwanted pests. Companion gardening stretches beyond the confines of conventional gardening to orchards, trees and shrubs, grains, grasses, and other field crops.
What Are The Benefits of Companion Planting?
Weed Prevention: Certain crops provide fast growing ground cover that help to overpower surrounding weeds. Try to alternate upright crops like corn or sunflowers with sprawling plants like cucumbers and other squash to keep weeds at bay in your garden.
Nutrient Provision: An appeal of using a polyculture type of approach and planting different plants next to each other is that the plants wont be competing for the exact same nutrients. Certain plants add needed nutrients into the soil and help neighbouring plants to thrive. Legumes are considered “givers” and include plants like peas, beans, clover and alfalfa. They have deep roots that fix nitrogen into the soil. Planting these next to heavy or light feeders that use up nitrogen will create the perfect growing conditions for your crops to thrive.
Trap Cropping: Planting certain bug-attracting plants near other susceptible plants can help to lure pests away from fragile crops and allow them to feed on others that won’t be harmed or aren’t as important. Planting the trap crop ahead of your target crop will ensure the pests stay away from delicate seedlings. Once the trap crop is infested, you can remove it along with the pests. Turnips attract many insects that would normally plague brassicas like cauliflower.
Pest Suppression: Mixed scents from different plants can help to repel insects (mostly small, egg laying flies) from laying on neighbouring plants. Certain herbs and flowers can prevent pesky worms, nematodes, and other fungi. The oil from Marigolds has been proven to be a great deterrent for many different pests.
Protective Shelter: Fragile plants or plants with very specific needs can be benefitted from the shelter that surrounding plants may provide. Companion plants can provide shade, a wind barrier, and a canopy to protect lower plants from rain, hail, and even frost.
Natural Supports: Strong, tall plants such as sunflowers and corn offer trailing plants or low growing plants like peas and cucumbers a strong trellis-like support to climb and spread.
Cauliflower Companion Plants
Plants that compliment cauliflower include:
Beans- Mature bean plant offer shade for cauliflower plants, helping them to retain moisture, allowing them to thrive. Legumes also help to fix nitrogen in the soil- giving cauliflower a much needed nutrient boost.
Celery- Celery’s aromatic leaves help to deter pesky cabbage moths from setting up camp in your brassica section.
Onions- Onions are very fragrant and can help deter unwanted pests from snacking on your cauliflower.
Beets- Cauliflower sucks large amount of calcium from the soil and beets only take a small amount when compared to other plants like tomatoes. Beets will be able to thrive next to cauliflower without stealing this important nutrient.
Broccoli/Cabbage/Brussels Sprouts- These three plants are in the same family as cauliflower and have similar needs- making them great neighbours!
Swiss Chard & Spinach- These plants don’t necessarily benefit cauliflower but they can live harmoniously with any brassica- filling in holes within the row and maximizing garden potential.
Radish-Radishes help to loosen the soil around cauliflower- allowing it to more efficiently spread its root system and uptake water and nutrients.
Herbs- Sage and Thyme attract pollinators while deterring harmful worms. Mint is known to improve the flavour of cauliflower when grown in close proximity.
What NOT to Plant With Cauliflower
Plants that you shouldn’t grow alongside cauliflower include:
Strawberries- The worst!! Do not plant strawberries close to your cauliflower plants. They attract slugs, snails, and other pesky critters.
Tomatoes- Tomatoes are heavy feeders much like cauliflower. When planted next to each other, they will compete for nutrients, resulting in a sub-par harvest on both plants.
Peas- Peas can stunt or inhibit the growth of cauliflower.
Corn- Corn is a heavy feeder and can steal much needed sunlight from your cauliflower.
Sprawling vegetables such as pumpkin, cucumber, and various squash- These plants can easily overtake cauliflower, stealing sun and causing moisture issues.
Frequently Asked Questions About Cauliflower
Start your seedlings in traditional seed trays or try out soil blocks (my new favourite seed starting method). Once the seedlings have 4-5 true leaves, transplant them out into the garden about 18 inches apart.\ with 30 inches in between rows.
Cauliflower does best when planted in full sun. If you are in a really warm growing zone (8+) and the summer heat gets very intense, consider planting a companion crop of beans for your cauliflower to shade it a bit, retaining moisture and keeping a more constant temperature.
Keep pests at bay by covering your cauliflower with nets or other fine crop cover. Preventing cabbage moths and other insects from getting to your cauliflower is very important for a good harvest.
Cauliflower Recipes Ready for Harvest Time
Roasted Cauliflower and Broccoli Mac and Cheese- This sophisticated recipe reminds me of the simple cheesy cauliflower and broccoli side dish that my mom used to make us as kids. The dish is elevated and acts as the perfect side for spatchcock chicken or smoked tri tip roast!
Creamy Blueberry and Cauliflower Smoothie- Sneak in some extra veg. in this delicious smoothie- perfect for wild blueberry season!
Sweet Potato and Cauliflower Soup- Warm up with this nutritious soup made with garden fresh ingredients and warming spices.